By The Numbers: Jacob deGrom, Keston Hiura, J.D. Martinez (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Monday marked the 20th time since the start of 2018 that Jacob deGrom did not net a win despite allowing zero or one run. That’s even eliminating two outings in early 2018 where he didn’t pitch five innings.
According to Baseball-Reference, he has 29 such outings over six innings throughout his career. Randy Johnson had the same amount in 419 more starts.
Yesterday was Jacob deGrom's 29th game with 6+ IP, 0 or 1 ERs, and a no decision
That's as many as Randy Johnson had in his career
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) April 6, 2021
For whatever reason, the Mets insist on wasting baseball’s best pitcher in increasingly innovative ways. In their first game of 2021, manager Luis Rojas pulled the ace after working six shutout innings in just 77 pitches. The bullpen proceeded to allow five runs in a gut-wrenching eighth inning.
That’s a familiar tale for deGrom, who is 25-19 with a 2.07 ERA and two NL Cy Young Awards from 2018 onward. As noted by Ryan M. Spaeder, deGrom has a 2.58 ERA in games he didn’t win over that timeframe. Justin Verlander is the only starter (minimum 350 innings) with a lower cumulative ERA (2.56).
What’s the fantasy takeaway here moving forward? Nothing really. It’s just weird.
It’d be one thing if the Mets were a truly atrocious team beyond deGrom, but they were a playoff contender in 2019 before ranking second in wRC+ last season. If he keeps dominating, they should eventually lend him victories. Yes, the said thing was said last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
But he should keep dominating. For those of you also uninterested in a pitcher’s win-loss record, let’s get to the fun stuff. Before Monday went awry, deGrom averaged a 99.2-mph velocity on his fastball and reached 102. It seems impossible for someone of his caliber to keep getting better, but it’s certainly happening on the radar gun:
Jacob deGrom's average 4-seam fastball velocity this season after one start is 99.1 mph (!!)
???? his average 4-seamer velo by season ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/5YIZ4GBr6X
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 6, 2021
Wins misfortune aside, deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball, and it’s not too close. If he keeps hitting triple-digits with regularity, we might regret not treating him as the No. 1 overall pick.
Keston Hiura (2B – MIL): Zero Hits, 10 Strikeouts
Fantasy managers expected the moon from Hiura following a rookie campaign in which he hit .303/.368/.570 with 19 home runs and nine steals in 84 games. Last year, however, he suddenly couldn’t make any contact. That’s what makes his ice-cold start particularly troubling.
Five hitless games is a small sample size indeed, but it’s scarier upon realizing he’s batting .195 with a 35.7% K rate in 266 plate appearances since the start of 2020. No hitter with at least 150 plate appearances has a lower contact rate than Hiura (58.4%) during that timeframe.
Dating back to last year, he’s gone eight regular-season games without a hit or walk. He struck out at least twice in five of them.
This is concerning. Not enough so to drop the 24-year-old, who typically required a sixth-round investment or higher. Those who drafted Milwaukee’s new first baseman are currently stuck, as he won’t fetch an adequate return on the trade market.
At the same time, there’s enough skepticism not to buy low in re-draft formats unless obtaining a noticeable discount. If the acquisition cost is 80 – 90% of his preseason worth, let him be someone else’s headache.
The Brewers may want to stay patient now, but they can’t keep his .000 batting average in the lineup forever.
J.D. Martinez (OF/DH – BOS): 14
Last season, Martinez didn’t touch them all until his 15th game played. He opened 2021 on a far better note, going yard in Boston’s third and fourth games.
It took him 23 games into 2020 to notch 11 RBIs, a tally he reached Wednesday for the 3-3 Red Sox. Along with the homers, the rejuvenated Martinez also has six doubles in as many games.
Is he back? Let’s hope so. Martinez was a vocal opponent against MLB restricting in-game video use last season. Its return was often cited as cause for hope throughout the preseason, and he’s making good on that narrative so far.
“To come back and just have a major tool of mine taken away, it hurt me a lot,” Martinez said of losing video in dugouts, per Boston.com’s Khari Thompson. “To have it back, it feels like things are back to normal.”
Of course, hitting against the Orioles is also fun. It’s far too soon to cement his return to a .300 average and 40 homers, but everyone who nabbed him at a severely deflated draft cost has to feel good about their investment.
This could even be a “buy-high” opportunity if someone still has Martinez’s ADP fresh in mind. Last season marked the first time since 2013 that the slugger posted a wRC+ below 135. It happened in 54 games during a season that started months later than planned with the added stress of a global pandemic.
At the risk of reading too much into one week, Martinez looks well on the path back to a .290, 35-homer campaign.
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